Two seniors will share the honor of carrying the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture gonfalon at the 2018 Fall commencement this Saturday.
Daniel Richer, a mechanical engineering major and Kelley Sindelar, a civil and environmental engineering major, will be the VCEA gonfalon bearers.
Each of WSU’s eleven colleges is represented at the commencement by a gonfalon, which is a shield-shaped banner bearing the school’s name and symbol. Graduates with a record of outstanding achievement are selected to carry a college’s gonfalon. Both Richer and Sindelar have 4.0 GPAs.
Richer, who is from Snohomish, Wash., recently accepted a job as a mechanical engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers at the John Day Dam on the Columbia River, after interning with them last summer.
A nontraditional student who dropped out of college a decade ago and fought a long battle with drug addiction and homelessness, Richer had to first overcome his demons to start his journey towards success.
“I had hit rock bottom, and I was sick of being there,” Richer said. In April 2014 he succeeded in detoxing and later underwent further treatment.
He decided to attend WSU since the university gave him a chance to continue his education without holding his long absence from higher education against him.
Richer had liked math and science from a young age and chose mechanical engineering because it gave him an opportunity to work hands-on with machines. Finding a supportive community was the key to his success.
“I found a group of older students to study with, and we kept each other motivated,” he said. “And it is great to have people to celebrate with at the end of a grueling semester too.”
“I’m grateful to my family for never giving up on me,” he said. “And I can’t thank my wife enough for keeping me responsible and grounded.”
For Sindelar, a native of Covington, Wash., a love of creating things and bringing ideas to life led her to study civil engineering.
She visited the WSU campus and loved the college town and the quality of the civil engineering program.
“My first semester was quite challenging,” she said. “It made me realize I needed to develop good study habits.”
Discipline and grit are her biggest strengths, along with a skill she developed in college: being well organized.
“I write a to-do list for every week and use an old-fashioned physical calendar to keep track of my schedule,” she said.
Sindelar also made use of the tutoring services on campus to keep on top of school work.
After interning with Coughlin Porter Lundeen, a civil engineering firm in downtown Seattle, Sindelar was offered a full-time position there. She will be starting as a staff engineer with the firm in January.
“I want to thank my professors, family and friends for always reminding me of my worth and capability to succeed,” she said.
The Fall 2018 commencement will take place in Beasley Coliseum on December 8th at 10 AM.